Protect Our Police PAC, a group organized last year by retired Philadelphia police officers opposed to District Attorney Larry Krasner winning a second term, is shopping around for a challenger.

Enter Susquehanna Polling & Research, a Harrisburg firm hired by the political action committee to test Krasner’s standing with 400 likely voters in the May 18 Democratic primary.

The firm used a curious technique — testing Krasner’s chances against two very real people without naming them.

One is Carlos Vega, a former top prosecutor Krasner fired when he took office in 2018. The other is Kelley Hodge, an attorney selected in 2017 as interim district attorney after Seth Williams resigned on his way to federal prison.

Vega is very much a candidate. Hodge has been courted to run but reaffirmed to Clout this week that she’s not interested.

How did they match up against Krasner?

Vega, described only as “a person of color” and “an accomplished 35-year career homicide prosecutor,” was backed by 26% in the poll, while Krasner took 22% and 50% were undecided.

Hodge, described only as “the first African-American female district attorney in Philadelphia,” took 42%, while Krasner won just 13% and 44% were undecided.

The survey, conducted last month, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Vega and Hodge told Clout they didn’t know about the poll.

Protect Our Police PAC president Nick Gerace said the group hasn’t made any decisions about backing a candidate and is testing Krasner’s weaknesses.

But Clout spied a clue in how the polling firm titled its work in a memo: “Carlos Vega for Philadelphia DA.”

“I guess they’re doing their due diligence so that, if they back anyone, they back a winner,” Vega said.

COVID-19 (28%) and crime (26%) were statistically tied in the survey as the most serious concerns for city voters. Half said they feel about as safe as they did five years ago, while 35% said they feel less safe. Eight of 10 said homicides and other violent crimes have increased in the last five years. The city had one of its deadliest years ever in 2020.

With all that, 45% said Krasner deserves reelection, while 32% said it is time for someone new and 21% were undecided.

Speaking of the race for district attorney …

A. Charles Peruto Jr. is technically still in the exploratory phase of his anticipated run as a Republican for district attorney. But the longtime defense attorney everyone knows as “Chuck” is fully committed to the social media flame wars when it comes to fans of former President Donald Trump.

Peruto, a lifelong Democrat who switched parties last year, posted this on Facebook on Jan. 6 as a mob of Trump supporters mounted a failed insurrection that left the U.S. Capitol scarred and five people dead:

“I can’t remain silent. While I’m a Republican and condemn the lawlessness of the recent past, I have to say that Donald Trump is a child. Wake up America, he doesn’t care about us, he cares about Trump.”

Facebook being Facebook, caterwauling ensued with more than 300 responses. Some backed Peruto. Others excoriated him. Commenters turned on commenters. The cyber-cesspool gurgled with phony conspiracy theories for more than a week as do-gooders haplessly tried to debunk them.

Peruto was Peruto about it — swiping away insults with swagger and posting that those who warned he would lose Republican votes in the dust-up should consider: “My name is Chuck and I don’t give a f—.”

He told Clout a formal announcement of his campaign is coming soon and he’s been in touch with the Pennsylvania Republican Party and Philly’s Republican City Committee.

A caustic critic of Krasner and his record, Peruto said the only way he doesn’t run is if Vega wins the Democratic primary.

Peruto said he voted for President Joe Biden last year. He knows that may cost him Republican support. But his focus now is on violent crime.

“I don’t want that to be a distraction, because this is about guns and bullets,” Peruto said. “I only did that because I could not stomach Trump.”

Joe Biden flips Bob Brady a coin

The new president came to Philly on Monday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, spending some time volunteering at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization.

Greeting Biden as he arrived in the city: former U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee. Biden came bearing a gift — a “challenge coin” marking the start of his administration. Brady said Biden told him it was the very first one he handed out.

Where to keep such treasure? Loyal Clout readers already know.

Brady confirmed the coin now shares a shelf with the water glass he swiped from the lectern after Pope Francis addressed Congress in 2015. That caper drew national attention.

Also on the shelf: a water glass Brady nabbed after President Barack Obama was first sworn into office in 2009. Brady is still bragging about how government curators didn’t know for seven years what became of the president’s glass, until his cover was blown in the papal pilferage.